The year 2023, marks 75 years since the HMT Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, Essex, in June 1948. The 1,027 people on board, mostly from the Caribbean, came to start a new life in Britain. Their arrival is now emblematic of the Windrush generation. On 14th October, join us at an event on the long history of the Windrush scandal at the APT Gallery in Deptford.
There, Dr Juanita Cox – a Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research – will talk about a project to record the experiences of people from the Windrush generation. The focus of the project is to explore the ‘Windrush Scandal’ in a transnational and Commonwealth context – examining both the changing legal restrictions imposed from the 1960s and later threats of deportation. The event is an opportunity to hear recordings of oral histories from the project archive and discover stories of the Windrush generation.
Who were the Windrush Generation?
In post-Second World War Britain, the government was searching for ways to boost the workforce and rebuild the economy. They passed the British Nationality Act in 1948, which created the status of ‘Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies.’ This meant that people born in a British colony had the right to work and live in the UK.
The name ‘the Windrush generation’ encompasses all of these people who came to the UK from 1948 until 1973. It was an opportunity for many, and their contributions have shaped our society and culture today. For example, the Windrush generation crucially helped to build the then newly-established NHS. Nevertheless, many people experienced discrimination in their work and communities, particularly in regard to housing.
In 1971, the government passed the Immigration Act. This gave Commonwealth citizens living in the UK (including those of the Windrush generation) the permanent right to live and work. The Home Office, however, had failed to maintain complete records and issue the correct paperwork to some of these Commonwealth citizens. Some people were told they were living in the UK illegally which led to the 2018 scandal. Capturing the stories and voices of the Windrush generation will ensure that their lives and experiences in Britain will never be forgotten.
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